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Last Words


When my dad turned to me one day to tell me that everything I saw would one day belong to me, I believed him.

He told me this soon after I graduated high school. We were standing on the observation deck of the Tower of Americas, looking out over all of Texas, it seemed. I can only guess this was further incentive to get me to complete my college education. I would be attending Harvard Business School, of course. It was always the best for me, the son of George Rothman.

A certificate from Harvard would look pretty impressive mounted in my office, but even at that relatively young age, I was aware that in order to run my dad’s business, Harvard was not necessary. Actually, college was not necessary. It doesn’t take a college man to run an oil company — or at least it didn’t.

To be completely honest — since it can do no harm now — no one who ever served as the head of Texron Energy Industries actually had a college education. Like me, they all had a certificate in their offices that documented their wealth. Those certificates usually said “HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL,” like mine. And, like me, while everyone else was in class learning and truly becoming college men, future Texron heads were off-campus partying, waiting for the day we would dress up in a cap and gown, cross the stage, and start making big bucks. That was the Texron way. That’s what Texron money could do back then.

Now there isn’t even such a thing as Texron money. There isn’t even a Texron. Believe me, though, at the height of my power, I felt like I truly did own Texas, and the world, for that matter. I could control the economies all around me with a simple word: increase. It was as if Prometheus had once again stolen from the gods, and delivered a gift to me — the gift of whim. Whatever my whim, it happened. I made sure my children would have this same gift bestowed upon them, just as it had been given to me and my father. All I had to do when I was asked the price of that godforsaken dino-goop, was say, “Increase.” And each time I said it, I saw that gift passed on to one more generation in a line of oil.

And then, one day, my well dried up. Obviously I’m not talking about the oil wells. Those are almost as full as they were the first day my great-great-grandfather found one while trying to dig an actual well for water. The well I’m talking about was my well of increase. I had increased my prices to the point where it was impossible for most families to make it from one paycheck to the next. People were actually taking out loans in order to pay for gas. I had made it so 35-percent of the middle class in Texas was paying interest on making their cars move. They did not have the pleasure of leaving anything for the next week, much less the next generation.

But they continued to buy it — until they declared war on me. That’s when my well dried up. They took a cue from the tobacco-industry critics and sued me. They claimed they had become so addicted and so dependent on my product that it had disrupted their lives and caused them irreparable damages. In a Supreme Court decision that changed the face of the oil industry, they won.

From there on out, it was a free-for-all. Like people who suffered from second-hand-smoke-related illnesses, asthmatics lashed out at oil. With science on their side, they proved the link between the increase in automotive emissions and the increase in asthma and the severity of the disease. I was forced to pay medical expenses for more than 350,000 asthmatics in the state of Texas alone.

The future was bleak for me, and it looked as though my children might have to attend and pass their classes at Harvard the old-fashioned way. I was going to have to make some huge changes to the fuel I was selling, too. Unless every oil head, like myself, wanted to pay federal fines and the medical expenses of every asthmatic born on the face of the planet in perpetuity, we had to make our fuel almost 100-percent clean.

Well, someone beat us to it. An engineer on the outskirts of Austin named David Escamilla spent the previous decade developing a water-powered engine. He sold it to the Ford Motor company as soon as I was dunked in all of that hot water. For fear of retaliation for their hand in everything that I had been sued for, Ford released the first water-powered car and named it the Hydro. Other car manufacturers followed suit. And so I was ruined. Oil was as useless to people as a telegraph machine. Even old cars can easily be equipped with water-conversion systems.

Now I am a part of the middle class I used to take advantage of. I’ve landed pretty hefty positions at different businesses around the state, but I can’t keep one. My Harvard certificate only served me well at Texron. David Escamilla, on the other hand, will be sending his children to Harvard, and their certificates will serve them very well. He invested his money from Ford in what he knew his cars and industrial motors would all need: pure, filtered water.

You would not believe how incredibly difficult it is to make ends meet when the price of water keeps going up. I mean, this stuff falls from the sky, but someone has to treat it and filter it and bottle it and so on. That’s where David, owner and CEO of H2Energy Industries, comes in. His company holds more land rights to aquifers and springs than any other in the world. And when he is asked the latest price for his services and products, he simply utters that magic word, “increase.”

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